A Writer's View - Season3 of Platform8

Who better to ask to write a blog about a theatre festival than a writer ... Becky Owen-Fisher of Lamphouse Theatre describes her experience of Platform8 Season3 - including some of the extras for theatre-makers, which makes the partnership with Battersea Arts Centre really special.

Thanks Becky - and good luck with Peter Pan.

 James Fritz's workshop for writers, hosted by Becky at Peterborough Museum.

James Fritz's workshop for writers, hosted by Becky at Peterborough Museum.

"A few months ago, Kate and I met to talk about Platform8 Season3. I’d been very lucky to have been involved in the first two seasons in some small way and I was really excited about what the next instalment would have in store for Peterborough.

Kate suggested that she invite the playwright of one of the Season3 shows to come and deliver a writing workshop for aspiring playwrights in the city. Obviously I jumped at the opportunity. She arranged for three Peterborough playwrights to receive a mentor session on the Friday and then there would be a larger workshop on the Saturday which was open to all writers.

As I headed to my Friday mentor session I bumped into Claire who had just finished hers. She had a great couple of hours chatting about her work and her aspirations, and assured me I’d get on just fine.

Soon after, I walked into Bewiched coffee shop to meet James Fritz, writer of Ross and Rachel; understandably I was pretty nervous. I really dislike introductions as I never know how to introduce myself; writer, playwright, poet, or just Becky. Naturally, I managed to create a perfectly awkward moment by trying to say all four of those things at once. For the record it comes out ‘wriplapoebec’ – which might be my new Twitter handle. Thankfully James is a really lovely chap and didn’t flinch at all.

The mentor session was brilliant. I had, at the very last minute, sent some examples of my work over to him. I’d assumed he wouldn’t have found the time to read them, but he had, so we talked a lot about my style and what he thought I could do to take my writing up to the next level. He also gave me some great insights into ‘the industry’ - though I don’t really know what that means. However, after discussing playwriting prizes, the Edinburgh Fringe and open submissions opportunities at length, I felt much better about my approach to all of these things.

We ended up chatting about his work and how he got to where he is now for about two hours. The poor man had been sitting in that coffee shop since mid-morning and when Tom, the final mentee, turned up, they decamped quite quickly to the pub.

That evening I went to the Key Theatre to see Ross & Rachel by James Fritz. It was brilliant. It was a one person play like I’ve never seen before. The concept is that one actress plays both characters and, after reading it, I really couldn’t imagine how it would work, but it was an incredible performance.

A group of us stuck around afterwards for a drink. James, and Mona Goodwin the actor, joined us. It was great to have the opportunity to listen to the writer and actor talk to each other about the play and how it moved and changed from writing to rehearsal. I have a real problem with editing my work, I struggle so much to let go, but listening to James and Mona talk really helped me to re-evaluate the way I think. James told us the first time he heard Ross & Rachel in full, just after it had been cast the first time round, he left the rehearsal room and cut ten pages instantly. I still can’t quite imagine going to that extreme, but my eyes have certainly been opened to the importance of not getting too emotionally attached to your text.

On Saturday, about seven of us attended the writing workshop on one person plays. It was a really lovely group which encompassed lots of different disciplines. There were several playwrights, a couple of poets, and even a director in the room. We talked a little about ourselves first and then James chatted about his experience. We read some excerpts from some one person plays and then examined them in a bit more depth, talking about the differences.

Some one person plays are just one voice, others are two or more, some are narrated, and some are more like steams of consciousness. I don’t think I’d ever really appreciated this range before, so it was really quite illuminating when I considered it in terms of my writing. Suddenly realising that made the idea of writing a one person play something that was actually achievable!

The two hours flew by and before long it was time to pack up and head off. I think it’s safe to say we all left the workshop feeling really positive about our work and incredibly inspired. I have a feeling that we’re probably all scribbling away on new ideas as I speak.

It was a brilliant experience welcoming James Fritz to Peterborough. He assured me that he’d had a great time. Tom Wells even took him to the Cathedral which, let’s face it, is a Peterborough must! He asked us all to stay in touch and keep him updated on our progress, so now we just have to finish these plays!"

Becky Owen-Fisher - Writer

Keep up with what Becky is up to on her blog HERE